Communicate Happiness

I was off and running and wanted everyone to do exactly what I said. Wait. Pause. I downshifted. I sat in my favorite chair and read the New York Times.

I have tried this gear shifting, simply letting others be, this whole week. With my son Hayden around the house only for another couple of days before college, I have thought, Screw it! Don’t pester him to load or unload the dishwasher. Let him “beach out,” as he calls it.

Beach out.

Let go.

Quit trying so hard, I tell myself. Life is not a contest. It doesn’t matter who works the hardest or struggles the most.

Make yourself a simple life.

Although.

My three children had been planted in front of televisions, laptops, iphones, screens for HOURS! I finally said, That’s it! Outside! I threw a big bouncey ball at them. They took the frisbee.

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We never had so much fun as we did on the nearby field of Riverside Park. We played Monkey in the Middle and the Witch in the Well and yes, Tag.

I hope that when they look back at their childhoods they remember playing in the field of grass. I hope I too remember laying in the grass and staring at the blue blue sky.

A few days ago, when I met my bf Jolain in Central Park, I could not get two words out of my head – Ample. Sunshine.

Last month when I was in Dublin for ten days, I had a beautiful time, but I never had days upon days of ample sunshine. Many days we had a bright blue sky with white-grey clouds. And a sprinkling of rain.

Now I have days and days of sunshine. That’s New York for you.

Growing up in Chicago, it was more like Dublin. I remember the winters — if it was grey, it was grey the whole day. When I was Hayden’s age, I moved to New York for college. I could not believe the light. Growing up in the suburbs I needed more light.

In the Presbyterian faith, churches that support the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, trans, bi families and partnerships are called more light churches. I like that.

Yesterday I was looking through my TimeHop app which captures my tweets, posts, updates from my past. I read something I had written a year ago.

Praise more. Complain less.

I think I had been inspired by skimming a book called A Complaint-Free World. I vowed to live complaint-free for one day.

Today, too, I vow to beach out, let go, have fun, find the places of ample sunshine, more light.

So far, so good.

Incidentally, a wave of joy and pride has come over me about my son heading off to college on Tuesday this week. I do not feel sad, I feel happy for him and for us as a family.

We have had a good week, shopping for his dorm room, going to Coney Island, being extras in a Greg Kinnear film. We are making memories. And we are beaching out.

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This post was written at the Ecumenical Library Writing Group. We were asked by Regina to meditate on two words, Communicate and Happiness. Then we sat silently for one minute silently as if we were in the midst of Lectio Divina, a spiritual practice of deep connection with the word. Our writing group meets next on September 14th at the Interchurch Center for 45 minutes at lunch time.  

Violent Images

Last night Chris and I saw the play Tamburlaine. At the 30-minute intermission, I told Chris, "This is the best production of Tamburlaine that I will ever see. And the worst." I said that about Cymbeline too. Glad I saw it. Don't need to see it again. 

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John Douglas Thompson (photo courtesy of Nigel Parry and NYMag)

It has my favorite actor, the Marlon Brando of our time, John Douglas Thompson, in it. Tamburlaine reveled in his own psychosis and had such a lusty love of blood-letting.

Thompson, in fact, is a gentle man, a bit of a friend. He played MacBeth when Chris played the porter in the Scottish play. Chris says of him, “He doesn’t shy away from the big parts.” (Othello, Emperor Jones, Julius Caesar). He is all in. So good. Exciting to see such commitment. And the whole stage rocks with turmoil.

But to what end? The play is loaded with buckets of blood and plenty of gore, including a scene where a tongue is cut out. Eeeeew! The play by Christopher Marlowe was first staged in 1587.

I overheard an audience member say, “This hasn’t been done since 1957 on Broadway.” And with good reason. It’s just an endless parade of marauding death.

On the way to the beautiful Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, Chris realized he forgot his medicine.

“Do we go back home?” I asked.

“No.”

“I will just be slow.” Chris’s Parkinson’s medicine helps him move. Without it, he freezes. After the play, I put a hand on his back. On the way home, I pushed him along.

He was extremely slow walking to the subway, heading back to the Upper West Side. Then we got home and I had to tell Catherine she could not watch Django Unchained.

“It’s not a problem,” H. said. “She looks away during the violent parts.” He loves having a companion with whom to watch movies.

“I’m sorry. No,” I said.

“You’re too protective.”

“Yes,” I said. Believing that they secretly like that. Even thinking maybe Catherine wanted to be told not to watch that.

“Why? Why can’t she watch it?”

“I don’t want her to have those images in her head — of such violence.” I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ve heard. And yet, Tamburlaine filled my head with violence too. I don’t think I’m worse for it. Maybe it would’ve been okay. I don’t know. We live vicariously. But plays are different. The cast comes out for a curtain call.

We know it’s fake. We love the artifice.

We go slowly home.

5 Boro Bike Tour

Coming back on the ferry

I did it. Along with more than 30,000 other bicyclists. The 5 boro bike tour. I can cross it off my bucket list.

I started around 8 am in Manhattan right before Central Park South. (I’d heard the beginning of the tour at Battery Park was a zoo so skipped to the Park.) I finished 45 miles and four hours later in Staten Island.

After a while, all the bridges and boros (boroughs) looked the same. Was I in Brooklyn or Queens? I knew it wasn’t the Bronx because that leg of the tour was brief.

Occasionally a family would be picnicking on their front steps, cheering us on. That felt good. I’d yell to them, “Thanks! We love Brooklyn.” Then I’d wonder, ‘Are we in Brooklyn? Or do I love Queens?’

Although I ride my bike almost every day to work, I’m not  a spandex-wearing hottie. In fact, I only just bought bike shorts for the tour. (Still, my tush is a little sore today!)

I usually use my bike just to get someplace. Yesterday, my bike got me to every boro and then at the end, I got to the NYU Hospital. Not for a problem though. It was a celebration for all kids who have had heart problems called the Mend-A-Heart party. My kids love this annual party. And my son is so proud, “Look because of my heart problems, you get to go to this great party!” Yay for broken hearts that are repaired!

Back to the tour — my new bike rocked. It’s a hybrid, not a racing back like most of the bikes on the tour.

I think this was Brooklyn

I was glad I had a basket to throw my banana peels and health bar wrappers into. Also, I could peel off layers of clothing as the sun and exertion warmed me. Occasionally after hitting a pothole, I had to pat down the contents of my basket while riding so my water bottle wouldn’t go flying.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Of the 5 bridges you cross on the 5 boro bike tour, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at Mile 35 was the deadliest. It just kept climbing for miles and miles and miles. At several points going up, I had a mirage that there — just ahead — it was about to go downhill. But no. It was completely uphill the whole way. Okay, maybe the last two minutes I hit some down hill.

I was thinking that whole way up — what goes up must come down. Then just when I felt like giving up, I was inspired by my friend P’s text, “Stay strong,” she wrote. “Free massages at the end.”

But I didn’t need one of those free massages, I just needed to lay down in the green grass of Staten Island. Really exhausted and really proud.

Bowling in Brooklyn

I ordered a beer. It came in a plastic cup from a bartender wearing a cumberbun. The Melody Lanes bowling alley is a place that time forgot.

See, the girls, a couple of their friends and I had gone out to Brooklyn by the Number Two train tonite. We met E. and W. at the Barnes and Noble on Court Street. E. drove through the Shlushpocalypse of Brooklyn to the bowling alley. In the car, we talked about kids’ ingratitude, unwritten books, blogs, plans to travel to France.

Right in front of Melody Lanes, there was a parking spot just waiting for us, as if we were rock stars. It looked crowded but we were at the front of the lane in no time. The woman behind the counter assigned us Lane 12. She reminded me of a beloved hall monitor from high school. Tough, but tender underneath. Brooklyn all the way.

We keyed our names into the electronic bowling screen. I chose my usual name Gorgeous. We girls enthusiastically cheered for one another if we ever managed to get a couple of pins down (and I’m talking the bumpers were up).

We ordered fries and nachos and burgers. Then I hit on the beer idea.

The bar was the highlight. Because the bartender, Pete, was schmoozing with someone. Just as I approached that irritation point, wondering, Is he ignoring me? There Pete was. Like he had ESP or something. It turns out Pete is very famous because there are 7 tips about Pete on Foursquare — the man is known for his cumberbun, his drink special and for being that “hilarious, eccentric, cursing bartender.”

The other highlight was on our way out, seeing a bunch of people dressed up like characters from The Big Lebowski, a movie I have never seen. But it looked good based on what the characters were wearing, especially the pregnant woman in the nude-colored body suit with the vines around her. She was Eve.

So that’s Saturday night in Brooklyn. None of us broke 100 (and again, we had bumpers!). I wish I had taken pictures to show you, but just imagine a 1950s bowling alley and then you’ve got the picture. http://www.notfortourists.com/LD.aspx/New-York/Nightlife/Melody-Lanes